Words & Deeds

Boise’s hottest chef to open new restaurant. Will it revive a historic Downtown spot?

A neon sign for the old Sav-On Cafe in Downtown Boise is still in place seven years after the restaurant closed.
A neon sign for the old Sav-On Cafe in Downtown Boise is still in place seven years after the restaurant closed. jsowell@idahostatesman.com

The dedicated people behind State & Lemp caught the Boise dining community off guard by walking away from their acclaimed, one-of-a-kind restaurant earlier this year.

Much like the colorful courses on their creative prix-fixe menus, the surprises just keep coming.

Most of the crew behind the original State & Lemp now plans to open Kin, a new Downtown Boise restaurant, in 2019.

Kin (stylized as “KIN”) will be co-owned by gifted chef Kris Komori, who earned a jaw-dropping three consecutive James Beard Award nominations during his ambitious tenure at State & Lemp, and charismatic restaurant ringmaster Remi McManus, who co-owned State & Lemp prior to it changing hands.

Kin’s location is still being finalized. “My official comment would be no comment on location,” McManus said Monday. That’s despite an architectural drawing filed with the city of Boise specifying that Kin is targeting 102 S. 16th St. The dusty old Downtown space used to be the Sav-On Cafe and Baldwin Lock & Key. Last week, the building’s owner applied to renovate the building for a new restaurant.

If Kin winds up revitalizing that corner, it will make old-school Boiseans smile. When the Sav-On closed in 2011, it was the city’s longest continually operating restaurant. Using a legal loophole during its final years, the Sav-On was a haven for cigarette smokers chased out of other restaurants by Idaho’s smoking ban.

Reinventing the old Sav-On as as a hip, modern restaurant would seem to be a smart territorial move, too. As Boise grows, Downtown feels like it keeps inching west.

Kin’s brick-and-mortar location is just part of the arsenal. While the new restaurant space gets remodeled, the eight-person Kin crew — all former State & Lemp staffers — will host farm dinners and other events.

The first is a $125 family-style dinner Sept. 14 and 15 at Meadowlark Farm, 9904 Southside Blvd., in Nampa. Then comes a Sept. 19 benefit for Global Gardens at JUMP, 1000 W. Myrtle St., in Boise. On Oct. 5 and 6, the Kin squad will cook up meals at Fiddler’s Green Farm in Boise. They’ll also host dinners at Woodland Empire Ale Craft, 1114 W. Front St., on Oct. 26 and at Barbarian Brewing, 1022 W. Main St., on Nov. 14.

This winter, Kin will unleash small pop-up meals at locations announced through social media. Catering services also are planned leading up to the restaurant’s opening.

So why call it Kin? Because this will be a local kitchen serving local food to local customers.

“Driving the new concept and new name is a sense of family and community,” McManus and Komori explained in a press release. “The tight-knit team often describes themselves as family and wants the new space to invoke that same feeling with guests. Additionally, they want to make sure the new space integrates the community through a multitude of events, classes, fundraisers and other collaborations.”

Boiseans craving meals that challenge the mind as well as the senses will be drawn to Kin. The creative fine-dining spirit Komori and McManus brought to State & Lemp will continue to thrive.

In other words, dishes at Kin might be inspired by local artwork hanging from the wall. Or a flying-saucer sighting in the Idaho skies.

“You got it,” McManus said.

Online: KinBoise.com, Facebook.com/kinboise, @kin_boise on Instagram. Tickets to Kin events are available at Kinboise.eventbrite.com.

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